The augmented reality industry currently faces the technological challenge of how to develop effective playback devices. While devices with the form factor of a Magic Leap or a HoloLens 2 are acceptable in the industry, they aren’t suitable for everyday use in the streets or in the offices. Their form factor does not make them particularly socially acceptable.

Facebook AR Display Hat Patent
Facebook AR Display Hat Patent

The slimmer AR models like the Nreal Light pass the daily usability test to an extent with their looks and in the wearing comfort department but they still have technical limitations related to their designs. On the other hand, while smartphone AR will still be in play for years to come, it is rather impractical in everyday usage.

In recent years, Facebook and other tech developers have demonstrated that the engineering breakthroughs needed for the development of ultra-slim Super XR glasses are still a few years or even a decade away.  Even if a tech breakthrough happens, there is no guarantee that everyone will find the tech glasses of the future a pleasant wearing experience, even if the technology progresses to a point where there will be as slim as conventional sunglasses.

Diversifying Tech Fashion

Facebook is coming up with an innovative pitch. Maybe the future XR devices don’t necessarily have to be glasses but hats. In 2019, Facebook filed tech hat patents that have recently been published by the US patent office. The patent, titled “Artificial Reality Hat”, states that conventional augmented reality glasses are often thick, heavy, unbalanced, and may generate excessive heat that is uncomfortable to the user‘s skin. According to the patent filing, because these conventional AR glasses have been designed to be worn on the bridge of a user’s nose, it is generally difficult to incorporate advanced computing components such as eye-tracking mechanisms and complex processors.

A Fedora with a built in AR HUD
A Fedora with a built-in AR HUD

The patent, thus, describes various forms of technically advanced headwear that include a baseball cap and a fedora hat which have an integrated visor on the front that hangs in front of the wearer’s face.

A Hat with an Integrated Brain Interface

In addition to the screen, the patent also shows other technologies that could be built into the hat such as a haptic element, an eye-tracking module, or even components for a brain interface. It would be conceivable to integrate electrodes that pick up fine electrical signals from neurons and then convert these into suitable computer commands in such an AR hat. Facebook is currently researching brain interfaces that should be market-ready in the next few years.

A cap with an integrated brain interface
A cap with an integrated brain interface

These tech hats could also be paired and operated using additional technology such as a control bracelet, data gloves, or a smartphone. In case you do not need a visor element, you can simply pull it off and wear this hat normally.

Facebook imagines that the AR hat can be remotely controlled using data gloves or a tech bracelet
Facebook imagines that the AR hat can be remotely controlled using data gloves or a tech bracelet

Apart from the tech hats, Facebook is also developing prototype high-end AR glasses with the first smart glasses scheduled to come into the market later in the year. Details of its functions aren’t known yet.

Source: Founder’s Legal

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